Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date





Volume 10, Issue 3

Inclusive Pages

Article number e0114266


Child eating behaviors play an important role in nutrient intake, ultimately affecting child growth and later outcomes in adulthood. The study assessed the effects of iron-folic acid and zinc supplementation on child temperament and child eating behaviors in rural Nepal. Children (N = 569) aged 4–17 months in Sarlahi district, southern Nepal were randomized to receive daily supplements of placebo, iron-folic acid, zinc, or zinc plus iron-folic acid and followed for approximately 1 year. At baseline and four follow-up visits mothers completed questionnaires including information on demographic characteristics and child temperament and eating behaviors. The main effects of zinc and iron-folic acid supplementation on temperament and eating behaviors were assessed through crude and adjusted differences in mean cumulative score changes between visits 1 and 5. The adjusted rate-of-change for these outcomes was modeled using generalized estimating equations. Mean changes in temperament scores and in eating behavior scores between visits 1 and 5 were not significant in either the zinc or non-zinc group. Children in the iron-folic acid group increased temperament scores by 0.37 points over 5 visits (95% CI 0.02, 0.7), which was not significant after adjustment. Neither the adjusted rate-of-change in temperament scores between zinc and non-zinc (β = −0.03, 95% CI −0.3, 0.2) or iron-folic acid and non-iron-folic acid (β = 0.08, 95% CI −0.2, 0.3) were significantly different. Adjusted rate of change analysis showed no significant difference between zinc and non-zinc (β = −0.14, 95% CI −0.3, 0.04) or between iron and non-iron eating behavior scores (β = −0.11, 95% CI −0.3, 0.1). Only among children with iron-deficiency anemia at baseline was there a significant decrease in eating behavior score, indicating better eating behaviors, when supplemented with zinc (β = −0.3, 95% CI −0.6, −0.01), Ultimately, this effect of zinc on eating behaviors was the only effect we observed after approximately one year of micronutrient supplementation.


Reproduced with permission of PLoS ONE.

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